YA Author Panel featuring multiple authors

Malayna Evans spent ten years in the Chicago media market, another ten in academia, and the last decade as an entrepreneur. Years after earning her Ph.D. in Egyptology from the University of Chicago, her son, then nine, suggested she write a story about a kid, who looked like him, lost in ancient Egypt.

Excited both by the idea of sharing her passion for ancient history with today’s middle graders and pursuing her dream of becoming a published author, she jumped into the project with abandon. Her debut novel, Jagger Jones and the Mummy’s Ankh, was released on May 28, 2019.

A single mom with two kids and a rescue dog, Malayna lives in Oak Park, IL. She spends much of her time writing–and balancing her writing with kids and career–but she’s “mature” enough to have wandered through Havana with her kids, shopped the souks of Bangkok and Istanbul, eaten her way through Italy, enjoyed deep sea diving in Bermuda, and, of course, trekked the ruins of Egypt. She loves (e)meeting new people so reach out to her on TwitterInstagram or GoodReads or visit her at her website.

USA Today Bestselling author Amalie Jahn is the recipient of the literary Classics Seal of Approval and the Reader’s Favorite Gold Medal for her debut novel, The Clay Lion. Her latest novel, The Next to Last Mistake, is a character-driven YA contemporary about cows. The power of female friendships, and finding your place in the world. She is a contributing blogger to the Huffington Post and Sothern Writers Magazine, as well as a finalist in the 2015 Kindle Book Awards. A TED speaker, human rights advocate, and active promoter of kindness, she lives in North Carolina with her husband, two children, and three extremely overfed cats.

Rajani LaRocca was born in India, raised in Kentucky, and now lives in the Boston area with her wonderful family and impossibly cute dog. After graduating from Harvard College and Harvard Medical School, she spends her time writings novels and picture books, practicing medicine, and baking too many sweet treats. Her middle-grade debut, Midsummer’s Mayhem, is an Indian-American middle-grade mashup of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and competitive baking. She is also the author of the picture books Seven Golden Rings, I’ll Go and Come Back, Where Three Oceans Meet, and other forthcoming books.

Mariama J. Lockington is an author, nonprofit educator, and transracial adoptee who calls many places home. Her middle grade novel  FOR BLACK GIRLS LIKE ME comes out July 30, 2019, and is now available for pre-order from Farrar, Straus, and Giroux Books for Young Readers.  Mariama is also the author of the poetry chapbook The Lucky Daughter (Damaged Goods Press, 2017).

Mariama has edited and contributed to many youth-centered book projects including: Be Honest and Other Advice from Students Across the Country (2011, The New Press), Growing Our Hearts and Brains: Poems on love, technology, and success (2014, 826NYC), Chicken Makes the Ice Cream Taste Better: Stories on Food and Community, (2015, 826NYC), and her co-authored lesson plan “The Science of Superpowers” is included in STEM to Story: Enthralling and Effective Lesson Plans for grades 5th-8th (2015, Jossey-Bass). She is a Bread Loaf Scholar, Voices of Our Nation Arts Alumni, a Literary Death Match Champion, and she earned her Masters in Education from Lesley University and her MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University.

Mariama lives in Lexington, KY with her partner and her dapple-haired dachshund, Henry. When she is not writing or teaching, you’ll find Mariama singing karaoke,  cooking new recipes, watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or re-reading her favorite book, Sula by Toni Morrison.

Gillian McDunn is the author of the middle-grade novels Caterpillar Summer (Bloomsbury, 2019) and The Queen Bee and Me (Bloomsbury, 2020). She has lived in California, Missouri, and North Carolina. Her favorite thing is spending time with her family. She also loves traveling, board games, and learning about the world we live in. She lives near Raleigh, North Carolina, with her family.


Nicole Panteleakos is an author, playwright, thespian, and Ravenclaw. Her debut novel Planet Earth is Blue (Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House) was released on May 14, 2019, with a second middle-grade novel to follow in 2020. She is represented by agent Katie Grimm at Don Congdon Associates, was a #PitchWars mentor in 2018, and belongs to the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators: Metro NY. She is also a regular contributor to Nanny Magazine. 

Outside of writing, Nicole is a Lifetime Member of the VFW Auxiliary and National Home for Children, a godmother of several, and on the Board at her favorite community theatre. She can usually be found reading fanfiction, playing board games, swimming, or adding to her Alice in Wonderland coffee cup collection.

Gail Shepherd received her creative M.A. from the University of Florida in poetry. She currently works in the K-12 education industry, supporting teachers and schools with training and technology. She is a fourth generation Floridian on her mother’s side, and lives in South Florida with her family, two dogs, and an awful lot of mosquitoes. The True History of Lyndie B. Hawkins is her debut novel.



Jodie Lynn Zdrok holds two Mas in European History and an MBA. In addition to being an author, she’s a marketing professional, a freelancer, and an unapologetic Boston sports fan. She enjoys traveling, being foodie, doing sprint triathlons, and enabling cats. Spectacle is her debut novel.

When she’s not at the computer coaxing characters into submission, you can find Amalie swimming laps, cycling, or running on the treadmill, probably training for her next triathlon. She hates pairing socks and loves avocados. She is also very happy time travel does not yet exist. 








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Event date: 
Sunday, July 28, 2019 - 2:00pm to 4:00pm
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